Mentally disabled kids and adults can sharpen their awareness of the world at a newly built pond designed to delight the senses.
Aromatic plants such as rosemary, mint and skunkweed grow on the pond’s edges. Water bubbles from the tops of three stone balls, making a soothing sound and inviting hands to feel the balls’ smooth and rough textures. Fish swimming in the pond create curiosity with their colors and movements.
It is the latest addition to the Therapy Zone, 844 N. Ellsworth Road in Mesa, a nonprofit rehabilitation and learning center for kids and adults in need of a variety of therapeutic services.
"Sensory integration is fairly calming for the autistic and sightless," said Gregg Goodman, Therapy Zone executive director.
"The pond could be an initiation to water, or trigger speech," Goodman said.
The pond, and a nearby bench made of cinder block and flagstone, were a Gilbert High School senior’s Eagle Scout project and were completed two weeks ago.
"I heard about the pond they needed and thought it was a good project," said Ian Sabin, 18, who has been a Boy Scout since age 11. "That kind of thing can trigger the mind and can be used as a tool in their therapy."
Sabin led a group of church, family and Boy Scout members to build the pond in his quest to earn the highest rank in Scouting. Several of Sabin’s fellow worshippers at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated the plans and materials.
Sabin also had to write a paper and discuss his work in front of a review board to earn the title of Eagle Scout. He will soon learn if he has reached his goal, he said.
Goodman said the sensory pond will be part of a planned sensory trail for hikers and horseback riders that will meander past gardens and other features of the Therapy Zone’s large back yard.
The ongoing project may never be quite finished as more ideas are dreamed up by staff members or contract therapists working with their pupils, Goodman said.
For information on the Therapy Zone, call (480) 380-2810 or e-mail